Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles

On the 16th of September 1864, the Alexandra Troop of the Wanganui Cavalry Volunteers was accepted for service by the New Zealand Government. The Troop was named after Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales. The Troop saw active service in the New Zealand Wars, mainly on patrolling and despatch riding duties, before being disbanded in late 1865. Reformed as the Alexandra Mounted Rifles Volunteers, the Troop guarded Wanganui during the Titokowaru campaign (1868), and took part I nthe Parihaka operation (1881).

In 1868, Trooper William Lingard, a founding member of the Alexandra Troop, won the New Zealand Cross for rescuing a comrade under enemy fire at Titokowaru's pa at Tauranga Ika. In 1898 the unit was renamed the Alexandra Mounted Rifles. At Naauwpoort, in January 1901, Farrier Sergeant W J Hardham, Alexandra Mounted Rifles, won the Victoria Cross for rescuing two wounded comrades while under heavy enemy fire. In 1912 the unit became Queen Alexandra's 2nd (Wellington West Coast) Mounted Rifles Regiment.

In the First World War (1914-1918) men of the Regiment saw active service in the 2nd (Queen Alexandra's) Squadron of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. The Squadron of 158 men and 169 horses was initially commanded by Major Jim Elmslie. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was sent from Egypt to Gallipoli in May 1915, without its horses. On Gallipoli the mounted riflemen gained a reputation as excellent scouts and hard fighters. New Zealand's mounted regiments were particularly prominent in battles fought at Outpost No 3, Table Top, Chunuk Bair and Hill 60. For his gallentry on Chunuk Bair, Major Elmslie was recommended for a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Following the Hill 60 battle the 2nd Squadron could only muster 14 fit men. After the evacuation of Gallipoli in December 1915, the mounted riflemen spent the remainder of the war on horseback, fighting the Turkish Army in the Sinai Desert and in Palestine, as part of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division. Notable battles were fought at Romani, Rafa, Magdhaba, Gaza, Beersheba, Ayun Kara, in the Jordan Valley and at Amman.

The Regiment received its first Guidon in 1929, at Waverley. During the Second World War (1939-1945) many volunteers from Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles served overseas in various units, particularly in the 2nd New Zealand Divisional Cavalry Regiment. This Regiment fought in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy. Some men also served in the Long Range Desert Group.

Later in the war some men of the Regiment saw active service with the 3rd New Zealand Division's Special Army Tank Squadron Group in the Pacific, and with the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade in Italy. Some men of the Divisional Cavalry Regiment performed occupation force duties in Japan after the war. Men of the Regiment also served in New Zealand during the war, firstly on horses and then in a wide variety of light armoured vehicles. In January 1942 the New Zealand Armoured Corps was formed. It included the 2nd Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Queen Alexandra's Wellington West Coast Mounted Rifles). In 1947 the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) was formed.

Following the Second World War the Regiment underwent a series of name and role changes and amalgamations. A wide range of armoured vehicles were used, including Valentine, Stuart, Centurion and M41 tanks, and Scorpion and M113A1 light armoured vehicles. Some men of the unit served with British Centurion-equipped tank regiments during the Korean War. In November 1964 the Regimental Guidon was paraded for Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, by a composite group of 140 members of the New Zealand Army. In 1992 the unit, as Queen Alexandra's Squadron, RNZAC received a new Guidon.

A year later the unit regained the title of Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles, Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps. From 1994 until 2002 most members of the Regiment gained operational experience operating M113A1 armoured vehicles in Bosnia - Herzegovina and East Timor. Many other officers and soldiers also crewed British armoured vehicles with British Army regiments in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Over this prolonged period, the Regiment sustained a higher operational tempo than any other unit of the New Zealand Army. Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles is the oldest serving Regular Force unit of the New Zealand Army. The Regiment has a proud and distinguished record of service to the Crown and to New Zealand. Ake Ake Kia Kaha.

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